Dana White has often argued that Rich Franklin doesn’t get enough credit and is one of the most under-rated fighters in the organizations, and I couldn’t agree more.
I suspect that the two decisive losses to Silva have clouded some fans judgment, and his permanently re-arranged nose is a constant reminder of that, but that shouldn’t detract from what he’s achieved in the sport.
Known as the UFC’s go-to-guy for his willingness to fight anyone at the drop of a hat, Franklin has consistently fought the best fighters the sport had to offer. Whether it’s Anderson Silva (the only man to fight him twice), Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort or most recently Chuck Liddell, he’s fought them all and more often than not given them a real run for their money.
What’s always struck me about the former middleweight champion is just how damn tough he is, despite his background as a maths teacher and easy going, ‘nice guy’ persona.
Of course that was showcased last night when he fought much of the first round with a broken left arm. Watching the fight again today the signs are more obvious that he was having difficulties, but watching the only slight clues that something was wrong was a quick glance down at his arm and later a brief glance up at the clock.
Remarkably he remained competitive despite the injury and though some fans claim he doesn’t have a strong chin he took some solid shots from the heavy hitting Liddell and kept pressing forward.
It’s far from the first time that Franklin has battled against adversity though. At UFC 58 back in 2006 ‘Ace’ successfully defended his 185lb belt against David Loiseau with a decision victory despite breaking his hand early in the second round. After the fight Franklin required a metal plate, screws and a six month layoff before being fit to return to action.
On his return he had the first fateful fight with Anderson Silva and had his nose badly broken, but it should be noted that despite the brutal beatings he suffered in both bouts with the pound-for-pound great he never tapped out and was never cleanly knocked out either.
A few years later Franklin suffered a poke in the eye late on in a fight with Dan Henderson. Despite being in obvious pain and experiencing blurred vision he shrugged his shoulders, laughed and said he’d continue to fight anyway. Franklin would eventually be diagnosed with a severely scratched cornea and had to have injections in his eyeball and scar tissue surgically removed from the affected area.
Add in the fact that he’s also humble, well spoken and a great ambassador for the sport means that he rightfully deserves his status as a legend in the UFC.
Can he be a genuine threat at 205lbs? I think that will be a tough challenge, especially as I still feel his natural weight class is 185lbs, but what I am sure of is that he’ll stay competitive, give 100% every time he fights, and continue to put on entertaining fights for the fans.